Vol. 5 Num 854 Thu. October 19, 2006  
Front Page

Kim makes first appearance since nuke test

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il made his first known public appearance since his nation's nuclear test, official media reported yesterday, amid concerns that the regime was readying a second detonation.

Kim, accompanied by top Communist Party officials and military officers, attended a performance of songs praising him, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.

The exact date of the performance was not specified, but Kim most likely attended the event Tuesday evening on the 80th anniversary of the "Down-with-Imperialism Union" a political platform on which the ruling party was built.

A second nuclear test was not ruled out by Ri Gun, director-general of the North Korean Foreign Ministry's American affairs bureau, in an interview with ABC News in Pyongyang that was broadcast Wednesday.

Asked if there would be a second test, he said: "Even if there's a nuclear test, that is natural, so don't have to care much about this issue. The test itself ... will be natural."

In Tokyo, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Japanese officials and said the United States was prepared to use the "full range" of its military might to defend Japan in light of North Korea's Oct. 9 test.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso said he was reassured by Rice's comments and emphasized Japan had no plans to develop nuclear weapons, a prospect the U.S. fears could trigger and arms race in Asia.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also said that Japan will not build a nuclear bomb, declaring discussion on that topic "finished."

The North Korean performers "sang high praises of the immortal exploits" of Kim and his late father, Kim Il Sung, KCNA reported. The North Korean leader "waved back to the enthusiastically cheering artists and audience and congratulated them on their successful performance."